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Issues in judging a debate

RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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8/6/2011 2:40:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The official DDO FAQ on voting says that when you vote:

Remember, the basis for decision should NOT include:

Opinions held you, but not mentioned by the debaters.
Conversation with any persons during or after the debate round.
Comments made by other members of the site.


That's a reasonable starting point, but there are some issues to be pondered.

There is question of how much common knowledge one is allowed to bring to a debate. Some say none or next-to-none. Keep in mind that you cannot judge the debate arguments without knowledge of the English language, and you cannot judge spelling and grammar without fairly good knowledge of English. Some people who learn English as a second language know grammar rules that I had never heard of. One critical area where prior knowledge is critical is in judging the validity of semantic arguments. Some semantic arguments are worthy and others are just feigned misunderstanding of the resolution.

One thought from outside the world of debate is Sagan's "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Some say that has no place in debate, that the debate ought to stand completely on its own. Thus "Garden gnomes control the stock market." is a resolution that must be considered like any other resolution, with no higher standard of proof. How about the fact circles do not have corners? Is a person judging the debate allowed to know that, or must a debate advocate state it and then prove it? The line of what is common knowledge and what is not common knowledge is unclear.

I think that common knowledge can be assumed, just as knowledge of English can be assumed. If it is not assumed, then any debate can be bogged down with uninteresting debater's points. Moreover, it parallels the jury instruction of "what a reasonable person" believes. While not perfectly defined, it still allows bringing some common knowledge to a debate. The garden gnomes ought to have a tough time in asserting control of the world.

I think the DDO guide means that a judge shouldn't use arguments not presented by the debaters in determining the truth of the resolution, then voting on that basis. That's true. It's nonetheless good to mention missed arguments for the sake of improving the knowledge base for a future debate on the topic.

Regarding comments, new arguments or facts presented in comments should not affect voting. However, it seems to me appropriate to consider something like: "Pro inadvertently conceded the debate when he said in R2 that ..." or "Con's argument about X was never rebutted, and that is fatal to Pro's case." Another is, "Even though Pro forfeited, Con failed to adequately rebut Pro's arguments." In some competitions judges cannot confer, but in other competitions they can, so long as it's about the basis for judging and not debating the topic themselves. DDO is a social networking site, so I think that discussing the basis for judging is appropriate.
Rockylightning
Posts: 2,862
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8/6/2011 4:41:27 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Whether people like it or not, they are influenced by everything they hear.

Voting should be based on who did a better job arguing their side. It's like a sport. If the Yankees lose a game to The Red Sox, the Yankee's fans arent going to deny the Red Sox a victory, they'll say "Yep, the Red Sox legitimately did a better job today, they deserved the win. Not "I like the Yankees so the Red Sox didn't win."
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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8/6/2011 5:18:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The ballot asks, who had the more convincing argument? Well, if pro's argument had holes in it, and the voter formed objections in his mind to pro's logic because of those holes, he's not convinced. Whether or not Con took advantage of those holes, so long as the voter recognizes the fallacy, he can give Con the vote. This is how people vote, and if you ask me, it is correct. Debates should be used to find the truth and the stronger sides of issues, not just to find out who is right and move on. If one contender has nonsensical points and the other doesn't, then the other gets the vote. We should use debates to refer to and build upon our knowledge not erase our minds and start from scratch.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Mestari
Posts: 4,656
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8/6/2011 5:29:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
In judging a debate I solely take into consideration arguments made in round. In tournament debate rounds I've voted on arguments I consider to be complete crap because it isn't properly refuted. If one side doesn't make an essential link and I notice it, but their opponent doesn't mention it, I'll pretend it's there when I vote. I believe debaters should not get leniency for being unable to refute their opponent. If the argument is bad, you should be able to beat it. Why should I, the judge, have to do that for you?
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Thrasymachus
Posts: 29
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8/6/2011 5:44:45 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I also think you need to consider only arguments presented when judging. "PROs case fails because of countergument I dreamnt up so points to CON" isn't on. I think it is acceptable for one party to assert a given argument is patently ridiculous, or the opponent has patently misunderstood something without going on to explain why, but obviously this is a very dangerous strategy: if your audience doesn't see whats so obviously wrong, then you've dropped.

Another issue in DDO that votes are almost always partisan: Christians almost always give the argument and sources points to their man, ditto the Atheists, liberals, conservatives, etc. Take as an example Freeman's debate with Contradiction on SSM: without fail, the Christians/conservatives gave more points to Contradiction than Freeman, and, without fail, the non Christians/liberals gave more points to Freeman than contradiction. As far as I can tell, this pattern holds across most debates. This suggests that the winner in a debate is not sensitive to who is the better debater, but which person belongs to the bigger ideological 'team'. That's bad news.
nonentity
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8/6/2011 5:52:02 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/6/2011 5:44:45 PM, Thrasymachus wrote:
I also think you need to consider only arguments presented when judging. "PROs case fails because of countergument I dreamnt up so points to CON" isn't on. I think it is acceptable for one party to assert a given argument is patently ridiculous, or the opponent has patently misunderstood something without going on to explain why, but obviously this is a very dangerous strategy: if your audience doesn't see whats so obviously wrong, then you've dropped.

Another issue in DDO that votes are almost always partisan: Christians almost always give the argument and sources points to their man, ditto the Atheists, liberals, conservatives, etc. Take as an example Freeman's debate with Contradiction on SSM: without fail, the Christians/conservatives gave more points to Contradiction than Freeman, and, without fail, the non Christians/liberals gave more points to Freeman than contradiction. As far as I can tell, this pattern holds across most debates. This suggests that the winner in a debate is not sensitive to who is the better debater, but which person belongs to the bigger ideological 'team'. That's bad news.

It's hard to discern whether the arguments were more convincing if your mind hasn't be changed.
OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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8/6/2011 6:20:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Another issue in DDO that votes are almost always partisan: Christians almost always give the argument and sources points to their man, ditto the Atheists, liberals, conservatives, etc. Take as an example Freeman's debate with Contradiction on SSM: without fail, the Christians/conservatives gave more points to Contradiction than Freeman, and, without fail, the non Christians/liberals gave more points to Freeman than contradiction. As far as I can tell, this pattern holds across most debates. This suggests that the winner in a debate is not sensitive to who is the better debater, but which person belongs to the bigger ideological 'team'. That's bad news.

This certainly has truth, but I hate to be that pessimistic. I've voted for people with opposing views but in the case where both arguments are very good I can't deny that there may be a bit of a bias - more in some cases than others. To an extent, this issue is unavoidable due to the issue of burden of proof which varies from person to person.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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8/6/2011 6:21:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
1) If I changed my mind during a debate from Pro to tied or from Tied to Con, then Con absolutely will win on the arguments. Same for the inverse.

2) If I did not change my mind:
(a) If I believed Con's side and continued to do so, Pro can never get the point* because he/she has the burden of proof. It will be a tie at the most.
(b) If I believed Pro's side and continued to do so, Con can still get the point if he/she put up a significantly better fight than Pro did.

*Exception: If there were several good arguments by Pro that Con never refutes, then Pro gets the point despite having the burden of proof and not changing my mind.

3) Sources: How sources were used matters a lot and dictionary definitions don't hold a lot of value.

Number of sources DOES matter to me just as much as quality. If the sources are of same quality but one person provides more, then they win.

If they provide dead links, 404 errors and home pages of websites and newspapers rather than the actual article, they are guaranteed the lose the points on sources without exception unless the other side made the same mistake.

Also, if their source betrays them, that will hold a lot of weight against them.

Conduct: Forfeiting is guaranteed to lose points, playing on semantics as well unless the instigator specifically mentions that the debate is a semantic one.

Arguments and sources in comments section are completely disregarded.

I'm sure everyone judges a little differently, here's how I do it. Do any of you do it a lot differently? If so how?
OMGJustinBieber
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8/6/2011 6:27:50 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I like to think of myself as largely unbiased, and I don't think you should necessitate a change of mind on a topic to consider a vote for an opposing view. You're coming at the debate from the standpoint of largely a blank slate. I found this "blank slate" concept challenged a little today because I was judging a debater who insisted on disregarding logic and that definitely raised some issues for me since the idea of logical coherence is just so embedded in my worldview.
ApostateAbe
Posts: 236
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8/6/2011 6:53:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I judge a debate according to whoever seems to be more convincing, all according to my own one-sided perspective and my own special set of criteria. If anyone says anything that I know is directly absurd or contrary to reason, then he or she loses credit. If the contender fails to spot it, then he or she also loses credit but not as much. If someone gets something wrong and it really ticks me off, then I count that as a bigger credit loss.
Mestari
Posts: 4,656
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8/6/2011 7:08:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/6/2011 6:21:57 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
1) If I changed my mind during a debate from Pro to tied or from Tied to Con, then Con absolutely will win on the arguments. Same for the inverse.

2) If I did not change my mind:
(a) If I believed Con's side and continued to do so, Pro can never get the point* because he/she has the burden of proof. It will be a tie at the most.
(b) If I believed Pro's side and continued to do so, Con can still get the point if he/she put up a significantly better fight than Pro did.

*Exception: If there were several good arguments by Pro that Con never refutes, then Pro gets the point despite having the burden of proof and not changing my mind.

3) Sources: How sources were used matters a lot and dictionary definitions don't hold a lot of value.

Number of sources DOES matter to me just as much as quality. If the sources are of same quality but one person provides more, then they win.

If they provide dead links, 404 errors and home pages of websites and newspapers rather than the actual article, they are guaranteed the lose the points on sources without exception unless the other side made the same mistake.

Also, if their source betrays them, that will hold a lot of weight against them.

Conduct: Forfeiting is guaranteed to lose points, playing on semantics as well unless the instigator specifically mentions that the debate is a semantic one.

Arguments and sources in comments section are completely disregarded.

I'm sure everyone judges a little differently, here's how I do it. Do any of you do it a lot differently? If so how?

Since you asked, the only thing that I disagree with to an extreme extent is that you disregard sources in the comments section. I believe this is perfectly fine if they footnote it within their speech. Sources can eat up substantial amounts of characters, especially if you use a lot. I feel it is unfair to punish a debater's ability to make arguments when they validate them with a significant use of sources.
Rules of Mafia

1. Mestari is never third party.
2. If Mestari claims an intricate and page long TP role, he's telling the truth.
3. Mestari always jointly wins with the town.
3b. If he doesn't he's mafia.
3c. If he was mafia you wouldn't suspect him in the first place.
4. If you lynch Mestari you will lose because he will be the third party Doctor or some other townie power role.
5. DP1 lynches are good.
6. The answer is always no.
BlackVoid
Posts: 9,170
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8/7/2011 2:07:37 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 8/6/2011 4:41:27 PM, Rockylightning wrote:
Whether people like it or not, they are influenced by everything they hear.

Voting should be based on who did a better job arguing their side. It's like a sport. If the Yankees lose a game to The Red Sox, the Yankee's fans arent going to deny the Red Sox a victory, they'll say "Yep, the Red Sox legitimately did a better job today, they deserved the win. Not "I like the Yankees so the Red Sox didn't win."

I know what you're really trying to say, but I just have to point out that this simply does not happen :/
Double_R
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8/7/2011 3:16:23 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
There is no question that subjectivity in voting is inevitable. When I read a debate it always comes down to one question: is the resolution affirmed? So many times I see debates go way off subject and voters vote based on who won the "point by point" battle with little regard for the resolution.

If one participant makes a claim that logically affirms their side of the resolution then I consider their point true until proven false. For it to be considered logically valid it must be a point where the conclusion flows logically from the premise. For example if someone says Barrack Obama is a horrible President because he has racked up our debt and has high unemployment then as much as I disagree with that reasoning, it is a logically valid argument because high debt and high unemployment is a logical reason to believe he is a bad President so the point stands until a valid counterargument is made. Now if someone says he is a bad President because he is always smiling, then that is not a valid reason so I don't give them credit for that point regardless of weather it is refuted or not.

In the end I take whatever points are left standing based on this reasoning and evaluate weather those points affirm or negate the resolution to decide the winner.